College of the Desert Presents to Palm Springs City Council

Carmela Karcher

“This is a long awaited meeting and the community sure has a lot of comments, including myself, and I’m sure the city council has a lot of questions as well,” Palm Springs Planning Commissioner J.R. Roberts said before the meeting.

And a lot of questions they had.

It took one hour to get through public comment and nearly everyone was there to voice their frustrations.

Most of the people said they’re frustrated over the years of broken promises from College of the Desert.

COD Board Of Trustees Chair Rubén AríAztlán Pérez and Bond Program Manager Mac McGinnis went through a presentation including renderings of what the campus could look like.

Superintendent/President Dr. Martha Garcia, who joined over Zoom, said they have allocated $345 million for the project.

McGinnis added the project should be complete between 2026 and 2027.

Once the presentation was over, Mayor Lisa Middleton emphasized the importance of the campus and how much support the college has gotten from the desert over the years.

But she also voiced a concern about that support.

“Many of us are concerned that that support is at risk. And we want to try to get it back,” Mayor Middleton said.

Then, council’s questions began.

Councilmember Geoff Kors asked COD leaders how the decision was made to stop the design work on the West Valley Campus, and more importantly, who made the decision and when.

Pérez responded saying it was not a board decision, but it was made by the interim administration before Dr. Garcia was appointed in 2021.

Mayor Middleton asked how much time they have lost because of their reevaluation efforts, and McGinnis claimed only a year.

Four months ago, city council requested COD provide them with planning documents so they could be released to the public.

City Attorney Jeff Ballinger said they only received three or four documents that weren’t already on COD’s website.

Dr. Garcia replied saying she thought the city received more and would confirm with the person who sent them.

McGinnis said the designs shown to the public were only 30% complete and were never approved by the board.

COD also confirmed they are dedicated to build the long-awaited learning hotel.

COD says they are in the process of collecting data to see if the buildings and other plans need to be changed for the campus, but they continued to reiterate, they are committed.

“I would just like to thank the city council for allowing us to be here tonight the members of the Palm Springs community and the greater Palm Springs community,” Pérez said at the end of a nearly 2.5-hour meeting. “Thank you for allowing us to be here tonight. We’re looking forward to working with you. We’re committed to making this project come to fruition in Palm Springs.”

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